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Activities Galore

ART YARD Managing Director Dennis Buonagura reports: “Activities galore at the President Barack Obama School, PS 34, in Jersey City this week. I worked with 6 excellent 7th graders who were our docents and had a variety of assignments. They assisted me and Teaching Artist Flavia Berindoague to install our Inspired By Basquiat works in the main hall of the school building; they excelled in their greeter guide skills and offered tours to the families of 8th graders participating in the annual Ring Ceremony.

Simultaneously, Flavia and Teaching Artist Sarah Gumgumji hosted classes in the art room based on Maya Angelou's poetry (and Jean-Michel Basquiat's art) book "Life Doesn't Frighten Me". Wow - check out the very Basquiat-esque works by these young students!

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One of the PS 34 teachers, Nisha, shared this photograph with me - of her Basquiat nail creations. Somehow I'm seeing a nail art lesson in ART YARD’s future (mind you, that's been a request from students - and teachers - for many years now). Check out her work on Twitter and Instagram @itstheclawset and is her website.”


At ART YARD Art Matters at PS 17 this week, Teaching Artist Evelyn Beliveau and Managing Director Dennis Buonagura led several classes on mural design. Dennis summarizes: “Prior to the classes, we went out into the school yard to see the wall that the school's principal asked us to design (and execute!) a mural for. The wall(s) are quite different in shape than what we had imagined.

Scouting the site for the new mural at PS 17

Students viewed images of Marie Roberts' murals for the Coney Island Art Walls events (photos by Martha Cooper) and we discussed preparing walls, types of paints needed, and how to execute the designs onto the walls.

Marie Roberts, Coney Art Walls Mural, photo by Martha Cooper

Marie Roberts painting Coney Art Walls Mural, photo by Martha Cooper

While students have come up with various ideas and examples including nature, equality, education, and eagles (the school symbol), the principal is looking for something abstract - which we'll map out in the autumn when we return.

Students at work on mural design

Soaring eagle mural design

Perched eagle mural design

Squawking eagle mural design

Just now, school is ending and we said our goodbyes (really just 'have a good summer') to the wonderful students, faculty, and admin staff. But Evelyn and I will discuss plans for mural design over the summer - incorporating the students' works and adding some additional ideas. Similar to what was done for the backdrop for The Lion King.


This evening ART YARD Advanced Studio met in person at The Whitney Museum to see Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Memory Map which brings together nearly five decades of Smith’s drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures in the largest and most comprehensive showing of her career to date.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Trade Canoe: False Gods, 2015

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940, citizen of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation) explains that her “life’s work involves examining contemporary life in America and interpreting it through Native ideology.” Smith’s series For The Survival Of Future Generations in which Smith implores viewers to understand their connection to the earth and forestall ecological crisis for the survival of future generations resonated for us.

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Eden responds to the exhibition: “Several works stood out to me because of their use of American Pop Culture - such as Joni Mitchell music and The Lone Ranger. I also liked the piece which spelled Columbus backwards so as to turn western perception of him backwards - seeing him as a figure of genocide rather than heroism.”

Sigrid, Ajani and I had an thoughtful conversation about “House and Home”. While the piece was created in the 1990’s we felt that it is resonant today, particularly when we untangle ideas of home/house --what it means to have access or not.

Sigrid and Ajani looking at House and Home

Sigrid writes: "Initially I thought that Celebrate 40,000 Years of American Art (a large scale piece which envelops the viewer) was a drawing over a photograph of a microscopes image but after closer inspection of the description we learned it was a callograph print, so it couldn’t have been a microscope image. This discovery of the technique used to create the image completely changed my perspective of the piece, and now I was even more interested in this piece."

Jaude Quick-to-See Smith, Celebrate 40,000 Years of American Art

Jules was mesmerized and thrilled by Coyote Sees The World Clearly!

Kevin brought my attention to a sculptural installation. We carefully looked at each element of the figure, a stand in for a contemporary fighter (playing cards, a bottle of Echinacea and what seemed to be a jar of Cayenne pepper part of the arsenal.).

Evelyn shares:I was drawn to Ronan Robe #2, (1977) because the divisions, the color, and the fibrousness spoke to me of a body. Many of these works seemed to involve stand-ins for bodies or parts of bodies, to powerful effect.”

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Ronan Robe #2, 1977 and detail

Jane adds: “There were so many profound and moving works in this exhibition! I saw influences of Philip Guston, Kiki Smith, Jean-Michele Basquiat, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Rothenberg. The entire show resonated with me. Thank you for organizing this important trip!”

Vera, enthralled by all the museum has to offer, was the last one out the door. She writes: “The Whitney provided amazing thought provoking exhibits - a commentary on America society.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s retrospect filled me with joy. Her works painting, drawings, prints, and sculptures created with metal & found objects all conveyed complex narratives expounding upon the experiences of indigenous folks. Identity is at the core of this work, particularly in her Memories of Childhood series, where Smith uses paint, collage and mix media in both emotionally charged abstract mark-making and symbolic figurative elements, with brown paper to create a self portrait.

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Paper Dolls for a Post Columbian World

Also on the 5th floor is a very different exhibition by Josh Kline called Project for a New American Century which addresses contemporary American consumerism and the ensuing disembodiment of people through capitalism. Notably Kline created an eerie installation of suspended virus-shaped glass orbs filled with time capsule like personal last day of work ephemera as a commentary the plight of unemployment.

Josh Kline, Contagious Unemployment

Finally, Inheritance is an exhibition from the museums collection about legacy and what is passed down presented an amazing range of human experiences from over 40 contemporary artists. Every piece felt like a gift marked in history.”

Sophie Rivera, I am U, 1995 (on view in Inheritance)

In summary, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith is a deeply talented and inspiring artist -- the work in this exhibition fresh, relevant and vibrant, with important insight on issues well worth consideration. We recommend visiting the show, which is on view at The Whitney Museum of Art through August 13, 2023.

We are grateful to Armando Jaramillo Garcia for making this trip possible!


Other Art News

There are several ART YARD Artists showing work this summer!


Fatima Traore has work included in Black Girl Art Show. Fatima invites us to join her June 25, 2023, 3-9pm at 99 Scott Studio, 99 Scott Ave, Brooklyn this Sunday June 25th for the opening reception.


Marie Roberts and Alexandra Limpert have work included in Siren: Reinterpreting the Temptress Song at New York Artists Equity Association Inc., 245 Broome Street, Manhattan.

Alexandra Limpert, Mermaid, 2023 & Marie Roberts, Merlife, 2018


Vera Tineo has work included in be(longing): Art on Grand Street an exhibition activating storefront windows on Grand Street between Bushwick Avenue and Union Avenue, Brooklyn from June 29th - July 23, 2023.


Cecile Chong invites us to Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 1329 Willoughby Ave., Brooklyn, this Saturday, June 24, 5-7 pm, for the opening of Gathering a two-sited exhibition featuring 45 Asian American artists at Tiger Strikes Asteroid and FiveMyles (opening on Sunday, July 9. We plan a trip there during ART YARD Summer Session). Co-curators Cecile Chong and Sophia Ma state: “We believe that New York has not seen this many Asian American artists all gather in one show since Godzilla had their What Now? exhibition in 1991 with Asian American Arts Center.”


Evelyn Belivieu has work included in Endless Summer on view at St.HROUDA, 227 5th Ave. Brooklyn thorough July 22, 2023.


Aisha Tandiwe Bell has new work in paper on view in Power Play 2022 Workspace Residency Exhibition opening June 27th 5:30-7:30pm at Dieu Donné, 63 Flushing Ave, Building 3, Suite 602 (6th floor) at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Aisha Tandiwe Bell, We receive future dreams and emerge scarred but triumphant, 2023


Brooklyn Queen: Magical Things e altri dipinti di Meridith McNeal opened at le Dama di Capesrano in Italy last weekend! I attended by zoom along with friends from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, Bronx, Upstate NY, Rome, Puglia, San Jose CA, Kansas, New Hampshire, and Berlin. The gallery has garnered local press and an in-person attendee was moved to write a poem inspired by the work! The exhibition remains on view through August 13, 2023.

Karla, who attended the opening from a car as she and a colleague drove from Kansas to Colorado to deliver artwork, writes: “I thoroughly enjoyed your Zoomed artist talk! Loved hearing the Italian translation and was amazed we could engage in such an exchange with technology. Your exhibition images were great and provided such a closer look at the body of works! What a great opportunity for you as an artist and for all who tuned in or attended!!”


Iviva Olenick is co-leading a medicinal and dye plant tour with herbalist Danielle Moore at OSH & Washington park on Thursday July 6 from 6-7:30. The rain date is Wednesday July 19, 6-7:30. Sign up on eventbrite.


You can support our friends and collaborators at FiveMyles Gallery while adding to your art collection! Buy a tax-deductible $250 ticket to the FiveMyles Benefit Sunday June 25th and take home an original artwork -- which might be by ART YARD Artists Cecile Chong, Meridith McNeal or ART YARD parent Mildred Beltré.

Mildred Beltré, Power/Protection, 2022, silkscreen and woodcut



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